Now that many women are heading back into the workforce, Allwork.Space shares why it’s critical for employers to listen in their hiring and retention efforts.
The pandemic has had a negative impact on women in the workplace — causing them to leave their jobs in order to take care of at-home responsibilities. As a sense of normalcy returns for the moment, more women are making their way back to the workforce, and companies need to make sure they are supporting their female talent.
The current women’s workplace participation rate in the United States stands at around 57%, the lowest in more than 30 years, which is causing many to fear that the progress women have made in the fight for equality may be on the downturn.
How are women affecting the future of work?
- Women are walking away from their jobs at historic rates. It is much more common for women to walk away from a job than men. In this current climate, women need to have jobs that are both flexible and fulfilling.
- The Great Rebalance: New and improved boundaries are arising. COVID-19 was an awakening; women no longer had to tiptoe around issues like childcare or toxic work environments. Top-tier talent understand their value and are willing to hold out for companies that align with their needs and values.
- Influencing the system. Now is the time for women to fight for leadership positions and lead their teams with conviction.
- Setting the precedent. Now is the time for women to feel empowered to take charge of their careers and shape the new normal for the next generation.
Tina Mirfarsi, VP of Communications and Culture at CarParts.com, explained to Allwork.Space how organizations can help to bring women back to the workforce.
Allwork.Space: How can companies bring back and lift up female workers in the workplace?
Tina Mirfars: The careers of many women took a major hit when the pandemic started, causing millions to make the decision: their family or their job. But for those who chose family, their responsibilities really didn’t stop when they left the workforce. They shifted instead — creating other personal challenges such as remote schooling and at-home childcare.
According to The National Women’s Law Center and CNBC, “there are still 656,000 fewer women working or actively seeking a new job now compared to February 2020 — a marked improvement from April, when close to one million women were still missing from the labor force.”
Now that many women are heading back into the workforce, it is critical for employers to listen in their hiring and retention efforts. For example: do they value flexible working hours, do they enjoy the hybrid working style since it allows for flexibility with childcare, what kind of additional benefits would they like to see implemented? Taking the time to listen to the unique needs of women employees, whether gathered through surveys or one on one check-ins with managers, will allow employers to offer tangible solutions that work.
Perhaps the most effective way to uplift women in the workplace is by giving them access to those within the organization who can offer guidance and career development tools. Connecting female employees with women in leadership positions will empower them to reach their full potential and obtain leadership positions of their own. Having female leaders in upper management roles positions them to serve as advocates and decision makers as major decisions around health and wellness benefits for women are made within an organization.
Looking ahead, we’re identifying other ways to uplift women in both the workforce and industry, such as incorporating return-to-work and family planning/building benefits, creating scholarships and internships for aspiring female mechanics, educating the new and next generation of women and much more. Companies who are committed to making their female talent feel supported, heard, and valued will not only retain talent through these challenging times but also will build a stronger culture of inclusion across the entire organization.
Leslie Tarnacki, SVP of Human Resources at WorkForce Software, told Allwork.Space how companies can retain women workers, as well as the repercussions if there are less women in the workforce.
Allwork.Space: What types of perks and benefits should employers be offering to retain top female talent?
Leslie Tarnacki: One of the most critical perks or policies that employers should be offering to retain top female talent — and working mothers in particular — is flexibility in where and when they work, via hybrid work systems and flexible work schedules. These are needed to support the unique needs of women, who still often find themselves with additional child and elder care responsibilities vs. their male colleagues.
At WorkForce Software, we work to ensure that women understand they’re in control of their day, and the company fully supports women who want to control their own schedules. In our culture, there’s no stigma around employees stepping away during the day to manage childcare and family responsibilities. We are continuing to layer in additional benefits for working parents (not just working mothers) including childcare stipends.
Flexibility will benefit women at all levels, and there’s more that can be done to retain women at the executive level in particular. Companies that are serious about gender equality must proactively provide leadership development opportunities tailored specifically for women.
Allwork.Space: What would it mean for companies, and the workforce in general, if female workers increasingly left?
Leslie Tarnacki: If female workers are continuously and increasingly leaving a company, that organization will be at a competitive disadvantage. It’s critical for business leaders to keep in mind that supporting women brings different perspectives, experiences, and strengths to the table – ultimately helping drive business performance and profitability.